S Africa detects a new variant, prompting new travel limits

TEHRAN, Nov. 26 (MNA) – A new coronavirus variant has been detected in South Africa that scientists say is a concern because of its high number of mutations and rapid spread among young people in Gauteng, the country’s most populous province.

Scientists in South Africa on Thursday identified a concerning new coronavirus variant with mutations that one scientist said marked a “big jump in evolution,” prompting several countries to quickly limit travel from the region, the New York Times reported.

Within hours, Britain, the Occupied Territories of Palestine, and Singapore had restricted travel from South Africa and some neighboring countries, citing the threat of the new variant.

By Friday, markets were down in Japan in response to the discovery, and officials in Australia and in New Zealand said that they were monitoring the new variant closely.

In the past two days, scientists detected the B1.1.529 variant after observing an increase in infections in South Africa’s economic hub surrounding Johannesburg. So far, 22 positive cases have been identified in the country, according to South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

Two cases were detected in Hong Kong, both apparently linked to someone who had traveled from South Africa. No cases have been detected yet in Britain.

A number of variants have emerged since the onset of the pandemic.

One underlying concern about them is whether they will stymie the fight against the virus or limit the effectiveness of vaccines. South African scientists will meet with the World Health Organization technical team on Friday to discuss the new variant, and the authorities will assign it a letter of the Greek alphabet.

RHM/PR

News Code 181098

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